A girl gets a Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

A girl gets a Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine June 2, 2021.

Credit: (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

A 17-year-old Douglas County resident who died of COVID-19 is Georgia's 12th pediatric death since the start of the pandemic, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Information about whether he had been vaccinated is not available, but the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is available to all people age 12 and up.

FAQ: What You Need To Know About Pfizer's COVID Vaccine And Adolescents

The drug manufacturer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration all agree the vaccine is safe and effective.

The initial safety findings of Pfizer's vaccine, given to 12- to 17-year-old adolescents in the United States, are similar to those described in the clinical trials, with the exception of myocarditis, a rare serious adverse event associated with receipt of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, according to the CDC's latest report.

But COVID-19 is a multi-system disease that leads to cardiac injury in roughly 20% of hospitalized patients, Dr. Jonathan Kim, the chief of sports cardiology at Emory University, told GPB News in 2020.

Last summer, high-profile cases of athletes diagnosed with myocarditis led Kim to tell active college athletes to be mindful of COVID-19's effect on the body. 

"At its core, myocarditis is defined as inflammation of the heart muscle, and it's typically brought on by viral infections," Kim said.


The CDC and FDA are continuing to follow up on reported cases of myocarditis, but none of the 8.9 million adolescents vaccinated during the study period died of myocarditis.

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System received 9,246 reports after vaccination in this age group; 90.7% of these were for nonserious adverse events and 9.3% were for serious adverse events, including myocarditis (4.3%).

The most commonly reported side effects, which typically lasted several days, were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever. These are similar to the side effects reported by adults vaccinated against COVID-19 as well.